Imagine having your own vegetable garden where you can potter about on a balmy summer evening...using the fresh organic peppers and tomatoes to make a pasta sauce. Sounds heavenly...doesn't it. Whether you live in a large sprawling house or a small apartment, you can create a functional vegetable garden. City dwellers who cite lack of space as an excuse for not having a garden, can try container gardening. If you already have a vegetable garden at your home, then a good way to save some pennies and avoid a trip to the local nursery is to harvest your own vegetable seeds. Another reason for harvesting your own seeds is to preserve heirloom vegetables, whose seeds are not available in commercial gardening shops.
For first time vegetable gardeners, harvesting seeds from vegetables bought from a store also works just as well. Vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, peas and beans are ideal vegetables from which you can harvest the seeds and preserve it for future planting. Peppers are a great vegetable to grow and harvesting its seeds is relatively simple and effortless. Here we are going to discuss the procedure for harvesting pepper seeds
Harvesting Pepper Seeds
There are many different types of peppers, from the fiery miniature chilies to the more common bell peppers. Although all varieties of peppers can be harvested, bell peppers work perfectly, as it is large and the seeds can be scrapped out without too much effort. An important tip to follow while harvesting pepper seeds, is to choose peppers that are organic or are open pollinated. If you harvest seeds from hybrid peppers, and use them it might not produce strong and healthy plants. Follow the steps given below for harvesting pepper seeds.
Select Peppers for Harvesting
As mentioned earlier, there are two ways of going about harvesting seeds from peppers. One is where you take a store bought pepper and remove seeds and the other is where you harvest seeds from a home grown pepper in your garden. If you are doing the latter, then wait until the pepper as fully grown and ripened before you use it for harvesting the seeds. If you are using store bought peppers, then choose the healthiest looking pepper with a glossy and smooth outer skin. Avoid peppers that have blemishes or soft spots and whose skin looks wrinkly.
Cut the Pepper
Once you are happy with your pepper selection, wash the pepper to remove all dirt and debris. Cut the bottom half of the pepper with a sharp kitchen knife. Insert the knife inside and gently slide it around the edges to remove the pepper seeds and membrane. Place the seeds and membrane into a clean empty platter or chopping board. Reserve the rest of the pepper to use in some recipe.
Remove and Clean the Seeds
The next step is to scrape out all the seeds from the membrane of the pepper. You can use a spoon or fork to scrape out the seeds or you can use your fingers. Do not forget to wear kitchen gloves while handling the seeds or membrane of the pepper as they contain capsaicin oil which might burn and irritate your skin. Discard the membrane of the pepper and place the harvested seeds over a kitchen towel.
Dry the Pepper Seeds
Once you are done harvesting the seeds from the pepper, your work is not complete. You need to dry the seeds thoroughly before storing them. Drying the seeds is important as otherwise the seeds will retain moisture and rot. Blot out any excess moisture from the seeds with a paper napkin and spread out the seeds so that they can dry properly. At this point inspect the seeds and remove the ones that are discolored or damaged. Leave the seeds to air dry for a week or two, turning them from time to time so that the bottom layer also dries out completely.
When the seeds are brittle, it means that they are fully dried. Place the harvested pepper seeds in a clean and dry plastic container and store them in a cool dry place. Now you can harvest your own chili peppers and use them to grow peppers in your garden.